Friday morning federal headlines – April 19, 2013

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Emily Kopp discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Intelligence workers can be forgiven if they sometimes feel like mushrooms. They work in the dark and are fed, well, you know. But they’re about to get some big-time recognition, at least for a day. Twenty-five senators have sponsored a resolution designating July 26 as United States Intelligence Professionals Day. President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act on the same day in 1947, creating the intelligence community. Leaders of the resolution are Reps.Mark Warner (D-Va.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Roy Blunt (R- Mo.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) They’re all members of the Intelligence Committee. (House)
  • Twenty-eight years have passed since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the fertilizer factory that blew up in Texas. In 1985, OSHA fined the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company $30 for a violation in the way it stored anhydrous ammonia. That’s according to a records inspection conducted by the AP. OSHA has jurisdiction over more than 7 million workplaces. Most see a federal inspector only rarely. Wednesday night’s explosion near Waco killed at least 15 people and injured 160. The blast destroyed the factory and many nearby homes. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Postal Service is reassuring employees in this area and Memphis that they are not in danger from two letters laced with ricin. It says the substance was not in a form that would pose a risk. No employee has reported symptoms such as a fever or cough. Those usually appear within 24 hours of inhaling the poison. Postal employees at all facilities received briefings yesterday. A postal union complained earlier this week that the agency had not given employees sufficient warning of the potential dangers. (APWU)
  • Airport security screeners will sidestep furloughs, but not their colleagues upstairs in the control towers. In separate discussions with Congress, Transportation Security Administration and FAA officials give different predictions of how sequestration will affect their work forces. TSA Deputy Administrator John Halinski says the recent 2013 budget deal gives his agency the funds it needs to avoid furloughs. But FAA administrator Michael Huerta says, he could find no way to cut $637 million without them. Air traffic controller furloughs will start Sunday. That could cause flight delays at hubs, including New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles. (Federal News Radio)
  • Lawmakers say Customs and Border Protection plans to start operations half-a- world away at Abu Dhabi International Airport, and they don’t understand why. A bipartisan group of powerful House members suggested it was not a risk-based decision. In a letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano, they questioned whether the decision is based on the availability of third-party financing. They noted that there are only three flights a day from that airport to the United States. And they said, CBP has too few officers at major airports in the United States. (House)
  • Long delayed cybersecurity legislation has easily passed the House. Ninety-two Democrats joined most Republicans in voting for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA. The bill would create a way for critical infrastructure companies to share cyber threat information with one another and with the government. CISPA has strong industry support. But there’s no similar bill in the Senate. Privacy advocates oppose it. And the White House threatened to veto it. CISPA was co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Mich.), both of the House Intelligence Committee. (Federal News Radio)
  • Thomas Perez says he has an open and balanced approach to leading the Labor Department. The president’s nominee faced a tough Senate confirmation hearing yesterday. He told lawmakers he would work with business and labor groups alike to create jobs. Republicans questioned some actions Perez took as head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. They suggested the Justice Department should have intervened in two whistleblower cases in St. Paul. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said he worried about Perez’s commitment to whistleblowers at the Labor Department. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) plans to put a hold on the nomination. (Federal News Radio)